Product Marketing Management

July 9, 2008

Many people would argue that titles don’t really matter. Perhaps. But, if they do matter, what do they mean? Transitioning into my new career as a “Marketing Professional,” I needed to first decode the numerous marketing titles I came across on various job websites to clearly understand the job function, before applying to a particular job. When I began to understand the role of a Product Marketing Manager, I knew I had found my calling for the time being.

Being a PMM in a small company is like being an entrepreneur with funding already secured. It’s akin to the next step in the “Lab-to-Market” course which occurs after you’ve pitched your idea to investors and secured funding — the phase where you get to move your idea from the concept phase into the development phase and then launch it into the marketplace. The only difference is that it’s not your idea that you get to develop and take to market. But, if you’re looking to take your own idea to market one day, experience as a Product Marketing Manager in a start-up company is probably the best preparation for future success.

I’ve noticed that job descriptions for Product Marketing Manager vary tremendously. Furthermore, in a smaller company, especially a start-up, the job descriptions seem to merge the role of “Product Manager” with “Product Marketing Manager” so in this case, you’re not only responsible for taking the product to market, but also responsible for developing the product (hence “Product Manager”) by defining product specifications and making critical decisions regarding the future direction of the product. As a PMM, you will be required to work with a variety of individuals across the company internally, as well as interface with outsiders who are vendors, partners, collaborators, customers, and the like.

A successful PMM embodies the following personality traits and skills:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to quickly adapt to different subject-matter vernacular.
  • Ability to lead without authority which really translates into having excellent influencing skills. If you paid attention to the MBTI lecture in the leadership course, this knowledge will come in very handy here.
  • Business savvy. How do you define this? This is one of those “when-I-see-it-I’ll-know-it” kind of skills; either you have it or you don’t. As PMM, you must have a sixth sense about people; be able to “manage” both up (your boss or individuals more senior than you) and down (your peers and subordinates, who are most likely not reporting to you). You need to be a central “node” for and about information without making it obvious. This is where good listening skills will pay off. Listen to your sales’ team; listen to you tech support staff; listen to what upper management are saying. Listen carefully and ‘read’ between the lines. The feedback from the field staff will help you understand your market, especially when resources are limited for fancy market research studies.
  • Ability to see the big picture and also be able to hone in on the right details. Very few individuals can do both well. However, in this role you are creating a vision for the product you are managing from the beginning to the end (from defining the unmet need to fulfilling that unmet need in the marketplace and everything in between). You have to chart out the course for this product from the 60,000 level down to the microscopic details, such as the choice of words for the accompanying product advertisement or sell sheet.

Some resources to consider as you develop your career as a PMM are:

  • Consider joining AIPMM (Association of International Product Marketing and Management)
  • Get your company to sponsor a membership to MarketingProfs.com. This is a really excellent resource of information, especially if you have the premium level subscription
  • Get a few books. One of my favorites is Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master by Paul W. Farris et al. Another good one to have as a reference is The Product Managers Handbook, 3rd Edition by Linda Gorchels. Go to Amazon and search on keywords such as marketing, website marketing, market research, etc. to see what else is out there.
  • And then there’s Google, your back-up brainpower.

Coming soon — a closer look at the documents that a PMM is responsible for developing and writing. Yours truly — “startupmarketingdiva.”

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2 Responses to “Product Marketing Management”

  1. Sue Massey Says:

    I’ve been reading along for a while now. I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work.


  2. Tahnks for posting


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